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Sleep apnea — a condition affecting millions of Americans — is characterized by a temporary loss of breath during sleep. Most apnea episodes last 20 to 40 seconds, but people with the condition may experience up to 100 or more episodes per night. There are two types of sleep apnea: obstructive sleep apnea (OSA), which is caused by physical impediments in the breathing passages that restrict air circulation; and central sleep apnea (CSA), which occurs when the brain cannot properly transmit signals to the breathing muscles.
Many people with OSA rely on positive air pressure therapy, or PAP therapy, which delivers a steady ventilation and helps. Continuous PAP machines, or CPAP machines, are bedside devices that provide pressurized air at a fixed rate throughout the night using breathing masks that connect directly to the generator. Several mask types are available. CPAP full face masks, one of the most common types, are particularly useful for people who sleep with their mouths open. Despite their name, CPAP full face masks may also be used with bi-level positive air pressure machines, or BiPAP machines, which deliver air at a variable rate and are typically prescribed to patients with CSA.
This guide will look at some general characteristics of CPAP full face masks, buying considerations, and our list of the top-rated full face mask models.
As the name implies, CPAP full face masks are designed to fit snugly over the user’s nose and mouth. Most full face masks feature five primary components:
An airtight seal is required over the nose and mouth for effective air delivery. To ensure the mask is not uncomfortable, full face masks models feature extra cushioning around the perimeter that maintains the seal while also providing a more comfortable fit. The cushion may be made from different materials, such as cloth, gel, silicone, or foam. The cushion is usually replaceable.
The elbow port may be longer or shorter. Additionally, some elbow sports may be swiveled 360 degrees; this allows the mask wearer to adjust their sleep position without compromising the connection to the hose.
Headgear straps are located at the jaw, and wrap around the back of the head to connect at the base of the neck. Additional straps may wrap around the forehead and connect in the same place; this is known as forehead support. The straps are secured with buckles, ball-and-socket joints, or hook-and-loop closures to ensure they won’t come undone during the night. Some models feature a dial that allows wearers to adjust how tight or loose the mask feels in small increments; both straps will tighten or loosen simultaneously as the dial is turned.
Full face mask frames are usually available in Small, Medium, and Large sizes to accommodate users with different facial dimensions; the headgear may be sized differently based on the size of the frame. Some models are also available in dedicated male and female designs, as well as those made for users with relatively small or wide faces. Cleaning full face masks is fairly straightforward; simply apply an alcohol wipe to the interior and exterior of the mask, as well as the straps. Never, under any circumstances, should a CPAP full face mask be washed or laundered in a machine. The cushion and complete mask should be replaced periodically (unless the cushion is not replaceable); Medicare allows users to replace the cushion every three months, and to replace the mask every six months.
It’s important to note that any type of face mask will be compatible with most CPAP machines, provided the hose offers a secure connection between the mask and the generator. Furthermore, the mask has no bearing on the airflow rate, humidifier capacity, and factors related to other components of the machine. For most, mask choice comes down to two factors: comfort and budget.
Although price-points vary and some models are available for as little as $55 to $60, most CPAP full face masks cost between $80 and $150. Please note that full face masks are only available with a doctor’s prescription.
Now let’s look at CPAP machines. Like the face masks, CPAP machines are only available with a doctor’s prescription, and cannot be purchased over the counter. If you have sleep apnea, please discuss CPAP machines and other options with your physician.
Irrespective of the mask, CPAP machines feature the following components:
The final component is the face mask, which is sold separately from the CPAP machine.
The operating procedure for a CPAP machine is as follows:
CPAP machines deliver air at a prescribed rate based on the user’s settings; a doctor can help determine the best airflow rate based on the patient’s individual apnea diagnosis. The airflow output of a CPAP machine is measured in centimeters of water, or cmH20. Apnea patients generally need an airflow rate of 6 to 14 cmH20, and most CPAP machines can deliver anywhere from 4 to 20cmH20.
Next, let’s look at how full face masks compare to other CPAP mask options.
In addition to full face masks, CPAP machine users may choose from nasal cradle and nasal pillow mask types. The table below lists similarities and differences between the four most common CPAP mask designs.
|CPAP Mask Type||Full Face||Nasal Cradle||Nasal Pillow|
|Appearance||The mask forms a seal that extends from the bridge of the nose to the bottom of the mouth||The mask forms a seal that extends from the bridge of the nose to the upper lip|
May feature a chin-strap that keeps the mouth closed
|The mask fits into both nostrils, and only covers the area between the tip of the nose and the upper lip|
|Sizing||Available in multiple sizes, as well as male and female models||Available in multiple sizes, as well as male and female models||Available in multiple sizes, as well as male and female models|
|Most Suitable for…||People who require high-pressure air delivery|
People who breathe through their mouth
|People who require high-pressure air delivery|
People who toss and turn in their sleep
|People who do not require high-pressure air delivery|
People who feel uncomfortable wearing a larger, bulkier mask, as well as those with facial hair
|May Not Be Suitable for…||Side- or stomach-sleepers (due to the bulky design)|
People who wear glasses or have facial hair
|People who breathe through their mouth|
People with allergies (blocked sinuses can impact the CPAP delivery)
|People who need CPAP therapy on high-pressure settings|
People who do not normally breathe out of their nose
|Pros||Secure straps keep the mask in place if the wearer tosses and turns|
Good option for people who have trouble breathing through their nose
|Most effective nasal mask for high-pressure air output (14 cmH20 or higher)|
Best design for side-sleepers
|Less expensive than other mask options|
Lightest and least invasive mask type
|Cons||Most expensive mask option (on average)|
Too bulky and heavy for some
|Can cause irritation in the areas around the face fitting|
Not suitable for mouth breathers unless a chin-strap is used
|High discomfort potential on high-pressure CPAP settings|
Direct air pressure may cause nasal dryness or nosebleeds
|Average Price-point||$80 to $150||$80 to $110||$50 to $75|
When comparing different CPAP full face mask brands and models, here are a few important factors to keep in mind:
Next let’s look at the best CPAP full face masks according to owners and customers. The following table lists information about the six top-rated full face masks. Please note that all customer satisfaction ratings are generated from authentic customer and owner experiences.
|Full Face Mask Model||AirFit F10||ComfortFull 2||FlexiFit HC431||Quattro||Simplus||Zzz-Mask|
|Manufacturer||ResMed||Philips Respironics||Fisher & Paykel||ResMed||Fisher & Paykel||PMI Probasics|
|‘Small’ and ‘Wide’ Face Sizes?||No||No||No||No||No||No|
|‘For Her’ Sizes?||Yes||No||No||Yes||No||No|
|Headgear Closure||Hook-and-loop||Quick clips||Metal snap clips||Hook-and-loop||Hook-and-loop||Quick clips|
|360° Elbow Port?||No||No||No||No||No||Yes|
|Tuck Customer Satisfaction Rating||91% (282 customer reviews)||86% (628 customer reviews)||88% (598 customer reviews)||85% (117 customer reviews)||90% (421 customer reviews)||82% (344 customer reviews)|
For more information about CPAP and BiPAP machines, please visit the following Tuck.com pages: